The Center for Global Sustainability and the University of Maryland’s Harrison Program in the Department of Government and Politics, is pleased to welcome Michael R. Davidson to the first CGS Forum of the Fall 2018 semester.
Michael Davidson is a post-doctoral fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Michael studies the engineering implications and political conflicts of deploying renewable energy at scale and building electricity market institutions, with a focus on China and India. His work has appeared in Nature Energy, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, and in the edited volume, The Political Economy of Clean Energy Transitions. He holds a PhD in engineering systems from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. www.mdavidson.org
Michael Davidson will be presenting on “Bringing Wind to Market: Will China’s Power Market Reforms Benefit Renewables?”
Intermittent renewable energy—e.g., solar and wind—creates complications for electricity systems and markets. One of the most pressing issues is integration—connecting and managing renewable electricity fluctuations through the grid—with numerous systems experiencing curtailment (forced spillage) as penetrations rise. In China, some regions have had over 40% curtailment of wind energy and similar levels for solar, much higher than other systems with comparable or higher amounts of renewable energy. These raise the effective cost of investing in alternatives to coal, making it more difficult to achieve environmental and health goals.
Renewable energy challenges are also taking place amidst the largest institutional changes to China’s power system in 15 years, as the country tries to stand up markets in place of legacy planning processes. This talk will present multiple case studies of markets implemented or discussed in four major grids of China based on several years of interviews beginning in 2015. These cases reveal how markets are designed, implemented and overseen by provincial governments, with significant heterogeneity and sources of inefficiencies. A standard power systems optimization model is then developed and used to quantify causes of wind curtailment in three of the regions. Findings indicate that popular reforms, such as shifting planning quotas to market-based contracts, do not address these underlying conflicts, though other reforms may.